West Virginia Faces Fresh Chemical Disaster

CHARLESTON, WV - JANUARY 10: The banks of the Elk River, where Kanawha County emergency services eventually determined the chemical had seeped through a secondary containment barrier, is seen on January 10, 2014 in Charleston, West Virginia. West Virginia American Water determined Thursday MCHM chemical had 'overwhelmed' the plant's capacity to keep it out of the water from a spill at Freedom Industries in Charleston. An unknown amount of the hazardous chemical contaminated the public water system for potentially 300,000 people in West Virginia.
National Journal
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Clare Foran
Feb. 12, 2014, 1:46 a.m.

A month after a chem­ic­al spill threatened West Vir­gini­ans’ wa­ter sup­ply, the state is fa­cing a fresh dis­aster.

Coal slurry spilled in­to a creek on Tues­day that flows in­to the Kanawha River after a slurry line rup­tured and burst at a coal pre­par­a­tion plant. The slurry con­tains MCHM, the same chem­ic­al that leaked from a chem­ic­al-stor­age tank in­to the state’s Elk River last month lead­ing to a par­tial ban on drink­ing wa­ter across the state.

The slurry spill is es­tim­ated at more than 100,000 gal­lons, and the mix­ture has already blackened sig­ni­fic­ant stretches of Fields Creek, a trib­u­tary of the river. 

“This has had sig­ni­fic­ant, ad­verse en­vir­on­ment­al im­pact to Fields Creek and an un­known amount of im­pact to the Kanawha River,” Sec­ret­ary Randy Huff­man of the state De­part­ment of En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion told the West Vir­gin­ia Gaz­ette. “This is a big deal; this is a sig­ni­fic­ant slurry spill.”


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